Tower Paddle Boards founder Stephan Aarstol may already be swimming with sharks as he paddles around on one of his paddle boards near his retail shop in San Diego, but not the kind of sharks that are in the Shark Tank. Stephan Aarstol opened Tower Paddle Boards in 2010 due to his keen observation that “Paddle boards” and related key words were getting a lot of search engine traffic. The growing phenomena hadn't made a big splash in San Diego yet, so Stephan Aarstol sensed a good opportunity to open an online business.
Earlier this century, Stephan Aarstol capitalized on the Poker fad by starting Sidepot Gaming Company. He formed the business because he wanted to sell high end poker chips for home use to folks who were searching for them in droves online. In the best year, he sold over half a million poker chips online and he claims Sidepot controls between 25 and 30 percent of the worldwide market in high-end poker chips. That's some pretty good online marketing credentials.
Tower Paddle Boards Gets a Start
Tower Paddle Boards got started to bring quality paddle boards and accessories to consumers direct, which saves distribution costs for the supplier and cold hard cash for folks who want to buy. While initially the company only distributed products made by other manufacturers, they have begun designing and selling their own brand of gear as well. Based on Stephen Aarstol's background and on the success of this business, I don't see why he needs the Sharks at all.
Then I dug a little deeper. In the press release for this weeks' show, it states he's looking to fund “his unique sales distribution method for his stand-up paddle board company,” not the company itself. This should make for some interesting discussion. Will it be a licensing deal a la TEC? If it is, we could see a rehash of the whole patenting/licensing discussion along with the “why can't we buy into the real business”-type exchanges.
Given that Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary and Mark Cuban all have pretty solid tech backgrounds and Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran have well built out networks themselves, I can't see the Sharks buying into a “unique method.” Not to disparage Stephan Aarstol's accomplishments or talents, but there really is nothing unique about capitalizing on highly searched terms- heck we do it right here on The Shark Tank Blog!
While I certainly am impressed with Stephan Aarstol's accomplishments and his business success, I don't think the Sharks will bite unless they get a chunk of the retail business.